NHIA: CMS reinvents the wheel

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

ALEXANDRIA, Va.--If the interim final rule for national competitive bidding goes forward in its current form, expect the same problems concerning enteral nutrition to crop up again, says the National Home Infusion Association (NHIA).

In a Feb. 12 letter to CMS Acting Administrator Charlene Frizzera, the association states that it supports the 60-day delay of the rule, but the rule as it currently stands does not address many of the operational and policy issues that have plagued the program.

“CMS and perhaps Congress should be taking a look at the program much more closely,” said Bruce Rodman, NHIA’s vice president of health information and policy. “They shouldn’t just reinvent the same type of issues that occurred during the first attempt at Round 1.”

The association said the two-week period in July 2008 when the program was in effect proved a real eye-opener. The association fielded reports of winning bidders with no experience in enteral nutrition, and, in some cases, contract holders that did not realize they were responsible for providing the services in particular areas.

“We had reports from members that they had been trying to transfer patients to winners and those winners weren’t equipped to handle it,” he said. “It’s very concerning.”

A disruption in service can be life threatening for enteral patients, says the NHIA.

“Unless CMS takes concrete steps to ensure that beneficiaries do not fall though the cracks when Round 1 is re-started later this year, these experiences easily could be repeated,” states the letter.